The most captivating part of sport is that it cannot be scripted. Ironically, in the case of the most popular football-based TV show till date, Apple TV’s Ted Lasso, its remarkable success story could not have been scripted either.
A character created in 2012 for an advertisement by NBC to promote the Premier League in the US, Ted Lasso was supposed to be part of a one-time skit. I remember watching it on YouTube and loving the concept, but just like any spectacular sports story, little did I know what the future had in store. Released as a TV series on Apple TV in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, Ted Lasso took all the intricate details of footballing culture in the UK and brought it to our screens in an incredible first season. What seemed like a straightforward plot about a jolly, eager, misfit American football coach (played by Jason Sudeikis) sent to England to unknowingly capitulate his new team gradually turned into a must-watch show, celebrating the themes of kindness, love and humanity.
As a footballer, commentator and, of course, a huge fan of the sport, Ted Lasso is a dream to watch. Filled with quirky comedy, engaging drama, pressing social issues, relatable characters and a football-driven plot, it has captivated me in multiple ways. It is safe to say that Ted Lasso is the most wholesome work of art I have come across. With the show’s third, and perhaps, final season drawing to a close recently, the Trent Crimm within me cannot help but highlight a few of the several reasons why the multi-Emmy-winning series is my favourite.
It is a show about football!
It does not take much to convince a sports fan to watch a show about the game they love. But from the onset, the plot, featuring a fictional Premier League team, which we can follow from within, set this series apart. The dressing rooms, training grounds, press conferences, live matches, commentary, close-up of fans, official kits, real teams and stunning production levels made viewers like me feel a part of AFC Richmond. It suddenly felt like my team was taking on Manchester City in an important fixture, and boy did I want the Greyhounds to win!
Cameos and appearances by football legends
To have a well-produced series is one thing, but to feature legends of the sport is a different ball game altogether. Ted Lasso features football pundits as well as ex-Premier League players like Thierry Henry, Gary Lineker, Ian Wright and Peter Crouch, who actively play a part in the narrative by commenting on the team’s performances. Retired Premier League referee Mike Dean was a delight to see as he oversaw a few crucial games. And the cameo from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was the best surprise ever!
AFC Richmond into the Premier League and onto FIFA 23!
After an official branding feature from the Emirates FA Cup in season two, it was time to take it up a notch in the following season, which saw Lasso’s side gain promotion to the Premier League. The show signed an official licence deal with the world’s most popular football league, allowing the series to actively visit Premier League stadiums, feature teams’ official merchandise, play with the official ball and use the league’s creative trademarks as well. This took Ted Lasso to a new level and made it feel like we were living in a simulation. It took me back to the days of my favourite football movie Goal!, where fictional characters brushed shoulders with Premier League and La Liga superstars. In addition to this, AFC Richmond and our favourite characters made their way onto FIFA 23, meaning I could not only watch them but play as them, too!
It is not just a show about football
What makes Ted Lasso so amazing to watch is that the show’s top layer presents to us the glitz and glamour of a Premier League side, while what lies beneath is something more fulfilling. There are various struggles that the characters go through and the way they deal with them is the driving factor of the show.
Social issues like mental health problems, hidden sexuality, injuries, racial abuse, separation anxiety, loss of loved ones and job pressures, among others, are tackled in a very real, relatable manner. This becomes all the more prominent when Lasso leaves Trent Crimm’s copy of the book with the words: “It’s not about me. It never was!”
Live life the Richmond/ Lasso way
Great works of art tend to be quantified nowadays with the number of views and streams they have accumulated over time. But the most fruitful transaction made is the one where we receive something special in exchange for our time and attention. I’m more than happy to say that as a fan of the show, and a footballer, Ted Lasso has given me a lot.
Most importantly, it has helped shape me to become a better friend, teammate, opponent and human being. It has taught me a great deal about being positive, instilling belief, dealing with obstacles, looking at things from others’ perspectives, communicating with peers, addressing past traumas, acting with kindness, spreading love and leaving the world in a better place than I found it. To me, that is what sport stands for, becoming better individuals in a collective manner. And it also resonates with Lasso’s words in the first trailer: “For me, success isn’t about the wins and losses. It’s about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves, on and off the field.” Lasso and the show writers have surely completed the double by helping both their characters and fans in this aspect.
In a fitting season finale, Lasso leaves AFC Richmond after helping them become a better version of themselves — kinder, more thoughtful and with more empathy for each other. But his Greyhound family also helps him overcome the issues he came there with, allowing him to be a more free, open individual who can take care of others, and also allow others to take care of him.
Whether Ted Lasso will have another season, or some spin-offs at the least, remains to be seen, but the show is bound to have a long-lasting impression on everyone who makes the decision to sign for AFC Richmond. Even though you taught us all to be like a goldfish, we simply will not be able to forget you, Ted Lasso!